Rebecca Hazelwood

Member Services Coordinator,

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How can we talk to teenage children and engage them in healthy activities and lifestyle?

With all the technology we have now, FaceBook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. Tennagers are glued to the social network scene and the internet. But what do we really know about what they are seeing and experiencing? And how can we guide them effectivly in a healthy direction?

  • Jun 29 2013: One ingredient is essential: lead by example. Teenagers have no respect for hypocrites.
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      Jun 29 2013: I have reached my limit of thumbs up for you this week. This statement is so true.
  • Jun 29 2013: Yes,Healthy activities and lifestyle are good for us.We being parents not only talk to them but also should keep the model for them.If teenage children still can't do what we expect them to be,it isn't their faults but our parents should keep on searching any better way to communicate with them.
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    Jun 28 2013: There is a featured thread going on right now about how to talk to kids. It has 173 posts which may be of interest to you!

    Many kids are not at all glued to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. It is important to figure out on a case by case basis how kids want to communicate with you, which is something we have hopefully learned as our kids have been growing up. I always talked with mine, in person and over the phone. I know some people text regularly with their kids, in that using the form of communication their kids at that time preferred.

    This is a "talk with" rather than a "talk to" situation, isn't it, so listening and figuring things out together makes good sense.

    The only way to know what they are seeing and experiencing is setting the stage and a relationship of trust from childhood so that they share their experiences and actually find some benefit in talking to you about them. As a former middle school teacher, I have found young teens extremely predisposed to share things with adults who they do not expect to over-react to what they share.

    The biggest challenge for many parents is pulling back from trying to run the teen's entire life from central control. In fact, from a condition of absolute dependence on Mama in infancy, the child has over time become able to make some of his own choices and make some mistakes he can learn from. A big part of parenting is giving kids increasing opportunities to speak for themselves, choose for themselves, and solve their own problems while being there when needed to provide support, advice, and ask question..

    If a child seems unable to discuss important matters with a parent, it is useful for a parent to help the teen find another adult to provide additional opportunities for support. The doctor, a family friend, a teacher or school counselor, an athletic coach, or an unrelated mentor can be an important part of a teenagers life.
    • Jun 29 2013: "The only way to know what they are seeing and experiencing is setting the stage and a relationship of trust from childhood"

      This is so true. New parents should be warned that the first decade is preparation for the next, which are much more difficult.. I suppose every year of childhood is critical, but when children reach their teens, a parent's prior mistakes can cost the whole family enormously. Your last paragraph is extremely important when trust has broken down.

      Your post is the best summary of teen communications I have ever seen. You might consider writing for a parenting magazine; there are many parents who could use your help.
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        Jun 29 2013: Thank you. I have had opportunity to provide advice and counsel to many parents losing touch with their adolescents.
  • Jul 2 2013: I agree with Barry's comment "lead by example." Let me also expand it a little further. The meaning of "lead" must not limited to repeat the word "Don't do this! and Don't do that!" Especially if you repeat it more than 3 times on the same topic already, it would be no longer effective. I think that a more effective "talking" could be the conversation among adults in front of the child that include what happened to some other children when they acquired a bad habit or making the same mistakes repeatedly and what was the consequence of such behavior. Yes, this "education" must start before the child reaches the age of 7. when they already have the common sense of life habit except the academic knowledge. And also before they are already drowned in peer pressure in the school.
    Also try your best to have an open communication with the child all the time whether you are too busy, or submerged in you own emotional turmoil or not.
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    Jun 30 2013: Rebecca, The question of how can we talk / engage teenagers etc .... is not fair. To wait until they are teenagers to attempt conversations or guidance is a formula for failure.

    All of the seeds to ensure success must be planted prior to the very disruptive and peer influenced teenage years. If you have not established a relationship by then the road will be rocky indeed.

    I am a firm believer that kids have enough friends .... my job is to be a parent. That does not mean that the road will be smooth or to either their or my liking. Hopefully the end result will be a mutual respect based on honesty and love.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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    Jun 29 2013: By remaining simple and truthful.
  • Jun 29 2013: I think there is no such thing like a "healthy" lifestyle. What is considered to be a healthy lifestyle changes every decade, but the so called "unhealthy" lifestyle survived all these and funnily people got a higher lifespan than ever before.

    Instead of putting fear into childrens heads, we should show a more confident view on the life. The vast majority of "unhealthy" things that can happen to one, can not be changed through lifestyle changes, though it is popular since centuries to say this. On the other hand, most popular advises are nonsense when taking a closer look.
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    Jun 28 2013: Good question! In my opinion, there isn't a single recipe, but so many as kinds of personalities the kids have. But in general may be interesant trying to make them feel useful for the community, letting them have the feeling, the idea, that they're making good things and their close society will recognize it as their contribution. It's not an easy ob, but trying it may be very interesant (and very difficult, sometimes). Just like all worthy things, it may be a piece of art.
  • Jul 28 2013: Talk to them openly & honestly about what they're experiencing. Find out what they think is important about their interests, & find out how they're going to fit-in in a way that works best.
    You can't be there 24/7, so get their passwords & see for yourself once in awhile, (to varying degrees of age-appropriateness & personal abillities), letting go little-by-little.
    Link-up with other close adults to watch over them.
    But most of all, do work to help make this world a better place, and let kids know how & why you do it. (Don't buy big, SUVs. When your government says, "free land," [or free health-care], really question how this is possible.)

    (Good luck to you and yours.)
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    Jul 16 2013: My problem is how do we inspire them to be all that can be? They are dropping out of school at record rates because there are no incentive programs being provided to inspire them to get a better education. Their schools are being closed all around them.
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    Jul 1 2013: .
    Tell them:

    (1) Good health comes from good lifestyle.
    (2) Good lifestyle comes from our ancestors’ successful experiences 10,000 years ago.
    (3) Our ancestors did not have FaceBook, Twitter, Youtube, etc.;
    thus, they are not of good lifestyle and make us unhealthy.

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    Jun 28 2013: Simple, tell them not to do it. (They fall for it every time.)
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      Jun 29 2013: .
      Tell them it is "invalid (harmful) happiness", too.